Burnout seems to be more common in recent years. Between dealing with a worldwide pandemic and all the attendant circumstances, the last couple of years have been very hard on a lot of people. 

Burnout can be defined as an experience of extreme exhaustion preceded by a period of prolonged stress. It can be difficult to identify because the symptoms can vary from person to person.  

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It can cause a loss of interest in what you do in daily life. You may have difficulty with focus and start to become less productive.  Your sense of satisfaction in your work may diminish.  You may feel that some things are not worth the effort. Maybe you feel helpless and resentful. 

Since you can be burned out, yet be unaware of it, what is it, really?  We all have a bad day or two here and there, but when those days are more and more frequent, it may be time to pay attention. Your mind and emotions may be trying to tell you something. 

Do you find yourself having frequent “bad moods,” or easily irritated? Are you lacking the energy to carry out simple tasks?  Are you frequently exhausted? Have you lost interest in activities you once enjoyed?  These are all possible signs of burnout.

Burnout is not something that happens overnight.  You may have physical symptoms such as insomnia, or more frequent headaches. Maybe you are sick more frequently or find yourself feeling negative more often.  You may feel helpless or trapped.  Stress can cause anxiety but burnout can make you feel numb or detached.

The most common cause of burnout is overworking. Working under pressure over a long period of time, without breaks or vacations, can lead to burnout.  The idea of work-life balance has almost become cliché, but not managing our lifestyle in terms of rest, downtime and enjoyable activities will catch up with us over time. 

Some high functioning individuals can be more susceptible to burnout by taking on too much and down the line having to deal with the consequences. 

If you are recognizing yourself in any of this, there are things you can do to prevent burnout and bring yourself back into balance. 

Opening up – You may think that no one will understand you but that is simply not true.  Our close family and friends may not be aware of or fully recognize what is going on especially if you are the type that doesn’t share this sort of thing.  Letting those close to you know how you are feeling on can help begin to take the pressure off and will allow those who care about you to support you.  Speak to a professional if you think you need to. 

Priorities – You may need to reflect on and re-evaluate your priorities.  What do you want to take precedence in your life?  You may realize you have been neglecting other aspects of your life, perhaps family or pleasurable activities, and want to make adjustments there. 

Boundaries – Recognize what your boundaries need to be for you to function well as a whole person. You may need to set, and stick to, limits to your office hours, screen time, or back-to-back meetings. 

Nourish your soul – Take breaks to give time to yourself. Listen to your body and stop when you are tired.  Make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercise and quality food.  Plan a vacation – even a long weekend can make a difference. Think about new habits you can create such as making time to read, or get out in nature for a walk on a regular basis.  Give meditation a try.  Paying attention to what your mind and body need from you can help you make the necessary course corrections before burnout takes hold.

Take the time to make your relationship to yourself a priority and realize the benefits.

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Categories: Wellness